Travis SARC team visits ROTC cadets|
Posted 11/22/2013 Updated 11/27/2013
by 1st Lt. Angela Martin
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
11/22/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Sexual assault may be the most underreported violent crime in the United States and eliminating sexual assault from the military remains a top priority for Department of Defense leadership.
To assist with this priority, the Travis Sexual Assault Response Coordinators educated Air Force ROTC cadets at Detachment 088 at California State University, Sacramento, on key sexual assault facts, restricted and unrestricted reporting procedures, and opened their eyes to signs of sexual harassment and assault.
"It was very important to incorporate the Travis SARC team in our cultural change leadership lab because Air Force ROTC cadets are not only the next generation of Air Force leaders, but are also in the primary age range for increased incidences of sexual assault," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Stokes, Air Force ROTC Detachment 088 commander. "For many of our cadets, this was the first time they have discussed this topic in a public forum. They need to be aware of the resources and process available for themselves as well as their subordinates, both now as cadets and in the future when they become Air Force officers."
Recognizing the separation of the cadets from active-duty culture, the Travis SAPR team jumped at the opportunity to educate the cadets on current statistics and procedures.
"They are the up and coming officer corps and future leaders or the Air Force," said Capt. Erin Mires, deputy sexual assault response coordinator. "If we instill in them now the values we need to stop sexual assault through bystander intervention, for example telling people to knock it off when there is sexual harassment present or inappropriate touching, then they have the habits and actions when they enter active duty. They'll be better leaders that will promote a positive environment and culture free of sexual assault and harassment."
The cadets echoed the need for the Travis team to help shape the cadet's culture.
"In the Air Force ROTC atmosphere, cadets experience a unique environment that includes being a full time student on a college campus while preparing for a future career in the Air Force," said Cadet Jessica Dacpano. "The cadet wing was not only educated, but inspired to create a culture of respect as future leaders in the Air Force."
At Travis, the SARCs inspire units to change their culture by focusing on barriers to reporting sexual assault, assisting commanders with limiting barriers, building and establishing trust within the SARC program, building awareness on how to make reports and encouraging people to get the help they need.
"The SAPR program is an asset to the Air Force because it creates avenues to support victims, offers guidance and increases awareness on a sensitive topic through education," said Dacpano.
A recent Air Force initiative for supporting victims is the creation of the Special Victims' Counsel. The mission of the SVC is to provide support to victims of sexual assault through independent representation, build and sustain victim resiliency, empower victims and increase the level of legal assistance provided to victims. This counsel is comprised of Judge Advocate General Corps whose full-time job is to represent, support and advocate for survivors. One of the 10 SVCs is located at Travis.
In addition to gaining insights from the Travis SARCs, the cadet's leadership lab included testimonies from fellow cadets who have been personally involved in sexual assault cases, either as a victim or as an intervening bystander.
For Cadet Ashley Frost, the briefings and testimonies provided new perspectives on sexual assault and the resources available. The examples and definitions increased her awareness on the issue and how to apply the facts to her personal life.
"The biggest take away from the SARC briefing was the prevalence of the problem," Frost said. "The statistics were staggering. It is an issue that could affect anyone."